Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year from Caliblini Personal Chef Service!

The last dinner party of 2015 was:

Roasted garlic and herb focaccia

Cream of mushroom soup
Fennel and orange salad with walnuts

Chicken roasted with garlic and thyme
Roasted Brussels sprouts with pomegranate
Smashed red potatoes

Fruit and berry crumble

Now working on menus for 2016!

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Shaken and Stirred. Trinity School parents annual party

This year the annual gathering of Trinity School parents was a cocktail party instead of the usual dinner. “Shaken and Stirred”. The heavy appetizers menu theme was fast food with a twist.


Tomato soup shots with grilled cheese sandwich
Caviar potato chips
Tuna tartare potato chips
Lobster rolls
Grass-fed beef sliders with foie gras on brioche rolls, heirloom tomato slices, cornichons
Truffle French fries, saffron aioli
Pizza Margherita, morel mushroom and goat cheese pizza, pancetta and arugula pizza
Mac’n’cheese with variety of toppings

Tuna tartare: sushi grade tuna, lemon juice, wasabi powder, sesame oil, tamari soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds, micro greens, homemade potato chips.

Bellweather Farm creme fraiche and sevruga caviar on homemade potato chip.

Langostino, shrimp, and lobster salad on sweet Hawaiian roll.

Fresh ground beef chuck sliders, havarti, seared foie gras, heirloom tomato, cornichons, on brioche roll.

Tomato soup shots with wasabi grilled cheddar and Gruyere sandwiches.

Thank to my hard-working sous chef Brenda for dealing with all these potatoes and hot oil, to super-professional servers Paula and Jim, to the wonderful bartenders, to Trinity moms Gilliam and Stephanie for organizing the party, and for providing all the ingredients for the pizzas, and beautiful, imaginative and fun desserts, and of course to our dear hosts, Wendy and Stefan!

Cigarette cookies

Panna cotta martinis with chocolate olive

Piña colada jelly; Irish coffee cupcakes.

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Location:Palo Alto, CA

Vegetarian dinner party tonight

Because it’s spring, I used lots of fresh herbs and edible flowers from the garden to garnish the dishes. I was also fortunate to find ramps and fresh porcini mushrooms at Sigona’s Farmers Market, and got Italian heritage polenta from the Front Porch Farm, they really made my appetizer shine.


Polenta crostini with wild mushroom ragout

Green pea and spring garlic soup
Butternut squash and goat cheese ravioli, lemon cream sauce

Ice cream with hot chocolate sauce and port-soaked fig

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Location:Los Altos, CA

A night of music and food

Last week I got a call from Bettina Devin, she needed help with food for a party. One of her favorite students, talented and beautiful singer/songwriter Chloe Jean had released her first album, the release party was happening in a new stylish San Francisco night club Hawthorn on Thursday, November 6, and Bettina was responsible for the party appetizers for a little over 200 people who RSVPd for the event. Of course, I wanted to help!

After a brief brainstorming session we came up with a menu that was elegant and satisfying, and could be executed and served to a hungry mid-week crowd on a short notice and tight budget, in a club with no kitchen, with the help of a few friends and students.

Bettina put in long hours making tons of chicken liver pate and 200 deviled eggs, three different flavors. One of her students enlisted her whole family to make a huge tray of lumpia, Filipino fried rolls. I searched Bay Area ethnic stores for interesting finger foods, and prepared a few spreads to serve on toast, and two flavors of homemade hummus. Just before leaving for the party, I put 200 cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, and mozzarella balls (my basil plant is gone, cut to the ground; the local stores are out of mozzarella balls), and 200 sausage bites with cornichons, on skewers.

We set up the food serving station in the back room bar. The star herself, Chloe, came over when she had a minute to help us to set up the tables!

Then the guests arrived, the music was beautiful, we danced, and everybody loved the food!

The menu:

Marinated green and black olives
Deviled eggs (Dijon, curry, wasabi)
Smoked salmon spread on rice crackers
Stuffed grape leaves
Chicken liver pate on water crackers
Crudite with hummus (mild or spicy)
Cannellini beans bruschetta with pickled red onions
Minted green pea and ricotta bruschetta
Caprese skewers
Smoked sausage skewers
Cream puffs

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Location:San Francisco, CA

USPCA Bay Area September Meeting

It’s hard to believe how much one can eat and drink in a professional conference! I feel like I won’t get hungry for days.

The September meeting of our USPCA Bay Area Chapter is traditionally held in Chef Garbo‘s beautiful summer cabin in Inverness. We get together on Saturday afternoon for lunch, then check out some coastal foodie places, shop local markets, then retreat to the cabin, where we all cook together, talk business, share ideas and techniques, eat, drink, play board games, enjoy the garden and the wild bird sanctuary, and generally have fun. Those who are able to stay overnight get together again in the kitchen on Sunday morning to cook brunch. Then we eat again. There is always plenty of tasty leftovers to take home for family and friends. My favorite meeting of the year!

This year we had lunch in the busy Point Reyes Station Cafe, toured Heidrun Meadery and tasted their delicious and unique handmaid mead, did our grocery shopping at the Palace Market, and picked up the last bag of fresh Drakes Bay Oyster Company oysters at Inverness Market. At the cabin, Chef Greg and I fired up the backyard grill, while everyone else got busy in the kitchen.

As always, there was a lot of food styling photography done. I’m proud to say that my pickled quail egg appetizer was very likely the Most Photographed Dish of the Evening!

This year, our former chapter president, Chef Kara, left us for the sunny Southern California, but she came all the way back to Inverness in order to pass the torch to the new president, Chef Gini.

Here is our dinner menu:

Moscow Mules by Claude Garbarino

BBQ Oysters
Pickled Quail Egg and Herb Salad Nests by Polina Antonova
Chicken Wraps by Dawn Buchhollz
Smoked Salmon with Sour Cream Sauce Crostini by Greg Chew

Tossed Salad with Caramelized Walnuts by Gini Bortz
Raw Kale Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Cucumber by Maggie Lawson
Grilled Stuffed Chicken by Greg Chew
Sexy Ribs by Claude Garbarino
Grilled Steak Medallions with Bacon and Herbs by Polina Antonova
Pearl Barley with Rosemary Roasted Grapes by Maggie Lawson
Grilled Veggies by Polina Antonova

Cheese Cake by Dawn Buchhollz
Boozy Pops by Claude Garbarino

Mead, wine, mineral water

Brunch menu:

Coffee, orange juice, mead Mimosas

Breakfast Sausages and Bacon
Lemon Bread & Pecan Muffins by Gini Bortz
Quiche by Dawn Buchhollz
Quail Eggs and Salmon Roe on Toast by Polina Antonova

I came home with lots of new recipes and business ideas, and a bag of garden apples, courtesy of Chef Garbo’s neighbors. Already looking forward to the next meeting!

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Sunday BBQ menu today

Sunday BBQ menu for my neighbors Toyota of Marin:

Fire roasted pepper salad with arugula and pine nuts
German potato salad
Four bean salad
Grilled beef fillet with bacon and sage, chimichurri sauce
Beef burgers, heirloom tomato slices, pickles, marinated red onions
Marinated chicken skewers, plum sauce
Beef hot dogs

Grilled eggplant, baby zucchini, and mushrooms
Grilled peaches
Summer fruit bowl

The afternoon was perfect, the grill hot, the drinks (mixed by the host/bartender) cold, and everyone enjoyed the beautiful Terra Linda view. The hot dogs were the favorite of the kids, the steaks and the grilled white peaches of the adults. Everyone loved the salads.

I didn’t take any pictures – I had my BBQ mitts on all the time – you’d have to trust me, it was a gorgeous party 🙂

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Location:San Rafael, CA

How to shrink a chicken. Trinity School parents Pinot Noir tasting and annual dinner.

The long dinner table was set up on the lawn, next to the pool. On a warm Palo Alto night just four patio heaters were enough to keep all 30 guests comfortable.

After sampling the oysters and an assortment of appetizers, the guests proceeded to the dining room, converted for the evening into a tasting room, for comparative tasting of California and Oregon Pinot Noir.

Keeping up the Pacific Northwest theme, I selected local ingredients in season for the main menu.

The oysters came fresh out of the water from Tomales Bay Oyster Company, my favorite picnic spot, and the growers of Pacifica oysters (good all year around, the water in the bay is always cool).

Devil’s Gulch Ranch, located just a few miles from my home, produces excellent jumbo quails, in addition to rabbit, lamb, and pork. I met Mark, the farmer, early in the morning, on his way to the Farmers Market, to pick up my order of fresh quails. The tiny birds are one of the easiest things to cook. They are so tasty that they don’t need any additional flavoring. I rubbed the whole birds with salt, pepper, and olive oil, let them sit, refrigerated, for a couple of hours, quickly browned them with more olive oil over medium-high heat, then finished them in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Another simple way to cook quails is to cut out the backbone with kitchen scissors, flatten the bird by lightly pressing it with your hand against the cutting board, salt, pepper, olive oil, then on to a pre-heated grill, 4 minutes per side. The only mistake that you can make with quails is to overcook them. The meat has to be a little pink at the bone, or it will be dry – and this can be a matter of 1 or 2 minutes – so check your quails frequently; as soon as they feel firm, they are done.

The conversation was flowing. Since quails are not the most common menu item, the running joke at the table was “How do you shrink a chicken to such a small size?” I just told you how.

After dinner everyone enjoyed a trio of homemade ice creams, and an assortment of sweets and homemade limoncello, cherry, and blackberry infusions, served from charming tiny bottles, with their coffee.



*Tomales Bay Oysters*

*Tartlets with Wild Mushroom and Caramelized Onions*

*Heirloom Tomato Basil Soup shots*

*Hummus, Romesco and Herbed Goat Cheese Dips with Flatbread*


Arugula and Orange Salad with Salmon Cakes, roasted garlic and orange aioli


Roasted Devils Gulch Ranch Quail

with Sweet Peas and Shallots accompanied with Wild Rice


Assortment of Cheese

Terrine of Homemade Vanilla Pistachio and Strawberry Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

Maple Ice Cream with Bacon Brittle


Sweets & Coffee

Thank you, Uncle D, for being my sous-chef and oyster man, thank you, servers Brian and Susana, for your very professional service and help in the kitchen, thank you, Trinity moms Stephanie and Gillian, for organizing the event, and for the amazing homemade ice cream, sweets, and fruit infusions, and thank you, dear hosts Wendy and Stefan for putting it all together!

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Wine and appetizers tasting at La Honda Winery tomorrow

Come see my friend Luisa of Luisa’s Catering and me, and taste our small bites paired with local wines at La Honda Winery in Redwood City tomorrow, April, 19th, 12 noon-4 pm.

The menu:
English Peas and Ricotta Cristini
Sweet Potato Arancini

Goat Cheese & Prosciutto Crostini
Stuffed Roasted Cherry Peppers

Mediterranean Pizzettas
Mini Crab Cakes
Flatbreads with Three Dips

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Location:La Honda Winery, Redwood City, CA

Dinner party menu

Last week I was asked to create a seasonal Californian menu, for a dinner party that included guests from out of state and from abroad. Here is the menu that I served. (Although the fresh strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries for the dessert are not in season, they are available and of good quality; if I wanted to go 100% Californian winter, I would have made a citrus tart, or a dry fruit and nut crumble for the dessert; but then I would have to leave out my favorite winter salad that includes both walnuts and oranges!)


Dungeness crab cakes, Meyer lemon aioli
Wild mushrooms and caramelized onion tartlets
Butternut squash soup shots

Mixed green salad with roasted beets, orange, and walnuts, sherry vinaigrette
Braised lamb shanks
Roasted baby root vegetables
Truffled mashed potatoes

Panna cotta with fresh berries

Oh, how happy I am with my new iPhone 5 camera!

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Location:Hillsborough, CA